In Greed and Lies in the Ballot Tender Wars, two Daily Nation reporters, John Kamau and John Ngirachu purport to provide what to a casual reader looks like a well written piece of news reporting you would expect from good journalists in a major daily.
A closer examination of the news story, however, reveals this is nothing but a carefully choreographed piece of Jubilee propaganda.
The authors open with a declaration “[a] vicious tender war over the printing of ballots for this year’s General Election is afoot, sucking in wheeler-dealers, politicians, members of the First Family and, most recently, opposition leader Raila Odinga.”
How can war be “afoot” in a tender that has already been illegally and un-procedurally awarded? Where were these reporters when the illegality was taking place? Did either of them investigate, let alone pen anything about the goings on leading up to the illegal and un-procedural award?
“Jubilee on Thursday denied an allegation that President Uhuru Kenyatta and members of his family were involved in the procurement of ballots,” they tell us; of course. It would be historic and a real bombshell were Uhuru or any member of his family were to admit the truth!
“It also increasingly became clear, from the revelations made by their political rivals, that the National Super Alliance does not have clean hands in the affair,” fair; it would naturally follow in a real journalism piece of a demand and production of evidence backing this claim, not just verbal allegations but none follows; rather, what follows is predictably allegations from Jubilee’s loudmouth in Parliament.
“It was claimed they are fronting Paarl Media of South Africa who are alleged to have met Mr Odinga on various occasions.” That claim comes straight from the loudmouth.
“The two printing companies having been clashing for printing contracts around Africa. In some places such as Uganda, the two companies actually shared the job.” Okay; good bit of news.
“Also, as the political rivals battled each other throughout the day, it also emerged that ANC leader and Nasa principal Musalia Mudavadi took risks with the facts in claiming that Mr Muhoho Kenyatta was the local agent of Al Ghurair Printing and that there was a risk of the election being rigged through the printing of excess ballots.”
Putting aside composition issues in this paragraph, the authors tells nothing about what risks Mudavadi took and why but the reader can understand why Uhuru Kenyatta’s brother being the agent of Al Ghurair presents a real risk for the election being rigged through the printing of excess ballots.
“In a statement to the Nation, Al Ghurair said it has had “no contacts with Mr Muhoho Kenyatta” and dismissed the Nasa statement as “false.” Okay; we know denials like this mean nothing, especially given the circumstances of this case.
“It also denied that any of its officials or representatives was received at State House and explained that the Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Majid Saif al Ghurair, who met President Kenyatta is not the chief executive officer of Al Ghurair Printing.” Okay; here’s where excellent journalists distinguish themselves and even get a shot at a Pulitzer; the assertion is factually correct but the reporter’s failure investigate or dig deeper leaves the very false impression whoever wrote the Al Ghurair statement intended, namely, given Majid Saif al Ghurair who met Uhuru is not the CEO of Al Ghurair, it therefore follows any claims he made a deal with Uhuru is false.
Here’s a small problem: the Majid Saif al Ghurair who met Uhuru and is friends with Uhuru’s brother was the CEO of Al Ghurair at the time they met he just only yesterday was replaced as CEO of the company! In other words, the statement is true as to whether Majid Saif is the CEO of Al Ghurair but is false as to the question whether he was the CEO when he met Uhuru.
The reporters missed that entirely, leaving the false impression noted above.
“Please note that there are two distinct business conglomerates in Dubai which share the same family name. The other business conglomerate is Saif Al Ghurair group which has no connection or shareholding in Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing,” the paper quotes Mr Lakshamanan Ganapathy, the general manager. Fine; nobody is talking about Saif Al Ghurair.
“And far from being a fishy operator in war torn countries, the company, one of the biggest printing operations in Asia and Europe, is actually a trusted security printer, often contracted by the United Nations Development Programme, to provide election materials for countries that require UN help to conduct polls.” The company may as well be but that does not preclude its being used to rig elections in Kenya, especially given its procurement has been at the direction of the president—and that’s the problem at hand.
“The Dubai-based company has been printing all electoral material for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.”
“In a country where lucrative ballot printing has become a vicious commercial war, the current row has not surprised observers.” The issue is not how lucrative the printing business is, rather, the issue is ballot integrity.
“In 2013, the tender was given to the British company Smith and Ouzman, whose officials were later convicted of paying bribes to Kenyan officials to print by-election ballots. It is now being alleged that the local fixer for that contract is a Mr Ahmed Kassam, believed to be a business associate of Mr Caroli Omondi, Mr Odinga’s chief of staff in the last government.”
The injection of this assertion here that’s partially factual is quite revealing as to the authors’ intentions in that it has no probative value but; conversely, the innuendo in it can only point to this being an attempt to smear Raila.
“In the current tussle, the Dubai printing firm said that “Majid Saif Al Ghurair has no connection or association with Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing.” Again, being clever by half—refer to the exposition above on this semantical dancing around the issue.
“If (he) led a delegation to Kenya and met the President, it would be purely an intergovernmental bilateral relationship building exercise in his position of chairman of Dubai chamber of commerce and it has no connection with the ballot paper project.”
Very clever; well, the man either led the Dubai delegation and met with Uhuru or he did not; which one is which? They’re either contradicting themselves of have been tricked by their own trickery intended to falsely create a narrative this Majid Saif is not Majid Saif as exposed above.
“On Thursday, it also emerged that Mr Odinga’s allies were rooting for Paarl Media, which supplied Uganda with ballots for presidential, parliamentary and district woman councillors.” Which allies? Name them or one may as well dismiss the assertion as gossip.
“Al Ghurair printed papers for district chairpersons, district directly-elected councillors and sub-county women councillors.”
“The row between the two companies, on who would eventually win the lucrative Sh2.5 billion tender, has been fought for the past eight months, after the chief executive officer of IEBC Ezra Chiloba wrote to the Dubai-based company on October 18, last year, notifying it that its bid to supply and deliver 130 million ballots, election declaration forms and poll registers had been accepted.”
Didn’t you tell us in your opening this war is “afoot?” Be that as it may, why do you seem more interested in the “war” aspect of this rather than the illegality and un-procedural manner in which the tender was issued?
“Reacting to insinuations that it was connected to State House, the company said it was “not associated’’ with any political party in any country.” Predictable denial which means nothing.
“(We) have gained reputation as one of the most reliable ballot paper printers by delivering all the ballot paper projects on time without any mistakes with very high quality,” said the statement. That may be true but does not eliminate the prospect for being corruptly used to perpetuate election rigging.
“In Jubilee’s elaborate fightback, it sought to link Mr Odinga to Paarl and demolish claims that a printing deal was struck at State House.” Yes, and this piece is a good piece of that effort.
“On Thursday, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry denied that Mr Majid Saif Al Ghurair, whom it had hosted in his capacity as chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, met privately with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House in October 2016.”
“KNCCI chairman Kiprono Kittony said that there was no private meeting between Mr Al Ghurair and President Kenyatta and that none of the issues discussed then touched on anything to do with the printing industry.” I take Kiprono at his word for he’s a man of his word but even if that were true, it does not affect the impropriety of having someone so closely associated with the Uhuru and his brother being given the tender.
“In Parliament, Majority Leader Aden Duale led MPs from the President’s party in asking Mr Odinga to account for his relations with Paarl Media, the South African company that challenged the award of the Sh2.5-billion contract to Al Ghurair.” If Duale were a serious person and not one prone to the endless stupidity he subjects and punishes us with every time he opens his mouth, one might take him seriously and call on Raila to respond.
However, he’s not therefore no need to respond.
“Cord should have full disclosure about the company that lost to Al Ghurair,” said Mr Duale.” See above.
“He claimed that the latest controversy around the IEBC, sparked by the statements by Nasa principals, is a diversionary tactic.” Nonsense.
“They (Cord) must tell us clearly. Do they want to spend time in the corridors of justice with flimsy cases or do they want to prepare for the General Election?” said Mr Duale. There’s no Cord! And, no, this is not a “flimsy” case but a very serious allegation based on known facts that something has to be done about not the least of which shall be Jubilee abandoning any plans to rig, using stuffed ballots.
“He also asked Mr Odinga to declare whether he would emulate President Kenyatta in declaring that he would concede if he loses the election, without putting in the caveat that the elections would have to be free, fair and credible.”
Here is a good example of this man’s stupidity: he’s telegraphing to the world that Jubilee does not intend the elections to be free, fair and credible! How moronic but the world is watching and, more importantly, the elections better be free, fair and credible!
“Mr Duale claimed that there was information that two directors of the company – Ben Sachs and Dr Peter Shailesh – met Mr Odinga thrice in December 2015 and twice in April 2016 and that they allegedly struck a deal.”
“In the deal, Mr Duale further alleged, they agreed to contribute Sh1 billion to Mr Odinga, but only if he helped Paarl Media secure the contract for the printing of the 120 million ballots.”
Again, were this to come from a serious person, and not one prone to payukaring, Raila may feel obligated to respond; Duale is a joker so no need to respond.
“The Majority Leader said that matters went awry for the Nasa presidential candidate when the contract failed to go the way of the South African company after he failed to get the cooperation of Mr Chiloba, the secretary of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.” In other words, the joker is bragging Uhuru having selected Al Ghurair, nobody else had a chance!
“It’s about him losing the tender. It’s about him losing the one billion for his campaigns,” said Mr Duale. A bald-faced lie not unlike many we’re used from this man.
“Mr Duale offered no further evidence to support his allegations or explain what sense it would make to pay a 40 per cent “donation” from a contract, still deliver and make a profit.” Great observation which points out the obvious the man is only good in payukaring and lobbing baseless claims and allegations against mostly Raila who gives them nightmares.
“On Thursday, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said with 53 days to the election, the commission will not cancel the tender.” Lame excuse but if the tender remains in effect and Al Ghurair has to supply the ballots, Jubilee better not even think about siphoning extras to stuff boxes as that will be a recipe for disaster to their detriment.
“If you look at the timelines we have, actually today we should be doing the artwork for the ballot. So, we do not have time to go into procurement of the ballot tender again,” he said.
Again, there’s plenty of time to retender and get the right company to supply the ballot papers consistent with the law and procedures.
“Printing ballots requires large volumes of security paper, which few printers can have in stock and which cannot be procured from paper mills on short notice.” Not an issue.
“On Thursday, Mr Duale claimed that Mr Odinga was “aware” of the Smith and Ouzman scam.” More smears which is the stable of this lunatic.
“A former secretary of the IEBC, James Oswago, Hamida Kibwana and Trevy Oyombra have since been charged in connection with the scandal, with the United Kingdom set to remit the money paid in bribes back to Kenya.”
More to do with Uhuru and Jubilee than anything to do with Raila.
Finally, notice what’s missing in this story: nowhere does it note the reporters attempted to even contact Raila or NASA for their take on the false allegations by the loudmouth Duale, let alone the purported denials by Al Ghurair.
More so this is a Raila hit piece camouflaged as a news story.